Editor’s note: Today we present the second of two blog entries about carburetors versus fuel-injection systems. Yesterday we heard Patrick Garvin discuss the wonderfulness of modern fuel injection. Today we hear from Kody Wisner, who will opine on the simple magic of a motorcycle carburetor. Read ’em both, compare notes and come to your own conclusion — unless, of course, your mind’s already made up.
By Kody Wisner
In this era of high-tech gadgetry, the trusty carburetor is a survivor — hanging on with bloody fingernails against some very advanced fuel-injection systems. But know this: The modern carburetors of today are very different from those of yesteryear.
Adjustable accelerator pumps, advanced fuel circuits and easier adjustments are a few of the improvements that have been made to the carburetor recently. And while it’s true that you’ve got infinite adjustments to fine-tune most modern fuel-injection systems, if you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s not going to do you any good. The same can be said for carbs, of course. If you don’t know how to tune them, they won’t be perfect. But one advantage a carb has over fuel injection is that most mechanics have worked with carbs. Far, far fewer have any experience at all with fuel-injection systems.
Carbs are simple mechanical parts with one mission: Supply metered fuel to your engine. Fuel-injection systems are far more complex and rely on several different sensors, as well as other electronic devices to supply the fuel. And everybody knows that electronics will let you down faster than a high school cheerleader. It’s just the way it is. But it takes a long time for a mechanical part to “wear out.” Remember the acronym KISS? That stands for “Keep It Simple Stupid.” The KISS principle says simplicity is a key goal in design, and that unnecessary complexity should be avoided. In fact, if it weren’t for the EPA and its strict emissions standards, my guess is that most bikes would still be equipped with carburetors. There should be no argument from anybody that carbs are far simpler to design, manufacture, maintain and repair. End of that story.
Having said that, I’ll admit that a closed-loop fuel-injection system is great when it comes to long-distance touring on varied terrain. But a trusty old carburetor that is properly tuned will have no issues getting you back and forth across the country. Maybe by the time you reach the top of Pikes Peak, your bike might not be running its best, but my guess is that it’ll get you back down the hill just fine.
And I agree you shouldn’t remove a fuel-injection system that’s in good working order for a carburetor. But by the same token, I know there are some fuel-injection systems out there for which there are no replacement parts, and in that situation, I’d switch back to a carb in a heartbeat. Speaking for myself, and other motorcycle purists, I’ll stick with a carburetor on my bike. Then if I do have a problem, I’ll be able to figure it out by myself. Without any help from a computer, thank you.